Warlords: Strong-arm Brokers in Weak States

Kimberly Marten
Robert J. Art
Robert Jervis
Stephen M. Walt
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Warlords are individuals who control small territories within weak states, using a combination of force and patronage. In this book, Kimberly Marten shows why and how warlords undermine state sovereignty. Unlike the feudal lords of a previous era, warlords today are not state-builders. Instead they collude with cost-conscious, corrupt, or frightened state officials to flout and undermine state capacity. They thrive on illegality, relying on private militias for support, and often provoke violent resentment from those who are cut out of their networks. Some act as middlemen for competing states, helping to hollow out their own states from within. Countries ranging from the United States to Russia have repeatedly chosen to ally with warlords, but Marten argues that to do so is a dangerous proposition.

    Drawing on interviews, documents, local press reports, and in-depth historical analysis, Marten examines warlordism in the Pakistani tribal areas during the twentieth century, in post-Soviet Georgia and the Russian republic of Chechnya, and among Sunni militias in the U.S.-supported Anbar Awakening and Sons of Iraq programs. In each case state leaders (some domestic and others foreign) created, tolerated, actively supported, undermined, or overthrew warlords and their militias. Marten draws lessons from these experiences to generate new arguments about the relationship between states, sovereignty, "local power brokers," and stability and security in the modern world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6411-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. [1] Warlords An Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    In May 2004 I was embedded as a journalist with the Canadian Forces who were leading the NATO peace enforcement mission in Afghanistan. Kabul and its suburbs were dry and dusty brown, a small tragedy (in a land of great tragedies) given that the city was once famed for its gardens. The Soviet invasion of 1979 and the decades of civil war that followed had targeted civilian irrigation systems and other infrastructure for bombing. Rebuilding was still in its early stages. Yet when we went out on patrol one day in Paghman District, just to the west of Kabul’s city...

  5. [2] Warlords and Universal Sovereignty
    (pp. 20-30)

    Warlords rule by force and personal patronage, rather than governing through institutions. Yet Douglass North, after explaining why institutions are a prerequisite for economic growth, went on to argue that efficient government institutions emerge naturally over time as trading opportunities increase. Powerful actors, in his view, realize that it is in their interests to create institutions to control the costs of increasingly complex transactions with strangers.¹ Might not warlords, then, evolve into state-builders who value the creation of institutions in order to build and protect their profits?

    Warlords share important characteristics with many internationally recognized states today. States can also...

  6. [3] Ungoverned Warlords Pakistan’s FATA in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 31-63)

    The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan became crucial for US and international security concerns in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. When Al Qaeda operatives and their local allies were pushed over the border by the initial US and coalition offensive in Afghanistan in early 2002, the FATA and its neighboring provinces inside Pakistan, the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan,¹ became crucial bases for the insurgent movement. Following years of Pakistani state support for radical armed Islamist groups in the region, including the Taliban, parts of the territory evolved into a safe haven...

  7. [4] The Georgian Experiment with Warlords
    (pp. 64-101)

    In the early 1990s the newly independent state of Georgia was torn apart by anarchic militia and gang violence.¹ Its two most prominent leaders, the heads of the National Guard and the Mkhedrioni (or “Knights Horsemen”) militias, appointed themselves the guardians of the state. With Russian encouragement they invited Eduard Shevardnadze back from Moscow to lead the state out of chaos. Before his famous stint as the westernizing Soviet foreign minister of Mikhail Gorbachev, Shevardnadze had been the Communist Party leader of Georgia. By this time Abkhazia and South Ossetia had effectively seceded from Georgia after bloody civil wars, but...

  8. [5] Chechnya The Sovereignty of Ramzan Kadyrov
    (pp. 102-138)

    After fighting two brutal civil wars to keep and control its own Republic of Chechnya, the Russian state effectively gave the territory away to one man and his militia. By early 2010, Ramzan Kadyrov and his appointees had legal command over the vast preponderance of security forces located in the republic. Moscow, in other words, granted Ramzan a virtual monopoly over the legitimate use of force in Chechnya, ceding the basic building block of sovereignty outlined by Max Weber. Ramzan then received unfettered access to the outside world when Moscow recertified the airport in Grozny, the Chechen captial, for international...

  9. [6] It Takes Three Washington, Baghdad, and the Sons of Iraq
    (pp. 139-186)

    In late 2005 and early 2006 the process known as the Sahwa (the Arabic word for “Awakening”) began in Al Anbar Province in Iraq. Arab Sunni tribal militias,¹ many led by Baathist supporters of the fallen regime of Saddam Hussein, switched sides. Sunnis who had been cooperating with Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) against the new Shia-led government and its US and coalition partners now flipped to fight against AQI. Similar switches by other militias cascaded in 2007 and 2008 to a total of eight Iraqi provinces. These groups eventually came to be known as the Sons of Iraq (SOI),...

  10. Conclusion Lessons and Hypotheses
    (pp. 187-200)

    This chapter draws together findings from the various cases, integrating the conclusions and policy lessons from previous chapters, to propose a number of generalizable hypotheses about warlordism and sovereignty in the modern world. I use the term “hypotheses” here because these case studies are a theory-generating exercise. They delve deeply into a few policy-relevant examples. A conclusive test of the arguments drawn from them would require applying the hypotheses to a much broader range of cases.

    My goals are twofold: to lay the foundation for a framework that can guide future scholarship on warlords and states, and to provide a...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 201-254)
  12. Index
    (pp. 255-262)